Story of a Children's Author

Elisa Nolf

March 29, 2022




Written By
Elisa Nolf

Elisa Nolf lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a Senior Lawyer and is passionate about writing fun, exciting and immersive stories that children can lose themselves in. She is the mother of a very ebullient two-year old. Her first globally published children's book is "Leonie Skyforce-Clarke and the Mystery of the Green Case".

Why Leonie Skyforce-Clarke?

"I’m not a mystical person. At all. So it is rather ironic that Leonie Skyforce-Clarke’s name, the ‘80s clues, all of it - came to me…in a dream.

"I know."

But even with such a strong, albeit peculiar head-start for a children’s mystery story, life got busy. At the time I was working 50+hour weeks, had a mother who became ill and a partner working at a start-up (life pro tip: don’t work at a start-up). I barely had time to breathe let alone write.

And then, came 2020. In Australia, the year started with hellish bushfires which enveloped the continent. The air became thick with ash, and the sun (I’d like to think in passive protest) became a permanent shade of lurid green. My world which had previously been filled with beach walks and new born baby playdates suddenly became small and smoky. Then of course, the pandemic hit and overnight my already little world became locked-down. 

And so - I turned to Leonie Skyforce-Clarke. Between smoke and spike-protein, I still couldn’t breathe. But I could write.

Thus began my near-clandestine writing frenzy. As soon as my baby would go down for a nap, I’d rush to the kitchen table and write. For once in my life I couldn’t procrastinate. I had to write for dear life, before the cries came. Under such conditions I knocked out a first draft of Leonie Skyforce-Clarke and the Mystery of the Green Case in three weeks. This was followed by months and months of editing and rewriting. Once "done", I didn’t read the finished draft for over a year - something I highly recommend.

Why Self-Publishing?

I’ve found the traditional publishing experience to be somewhat demotivating. It can often feel as though (unless you’re a massive Tik Tok sensation) no one really wants to know you’re alive - let alone read your manuscript.

There was also part of me that wanted to own my book fully. I didn’t want anyone dumbing down my prose, I wanted to get the right book cover and I had an interest in understanding the publishing process end-to-end. 

And although I’m still very much on the journey, here are a few things I’ve learnt about self-publishing thus far:

  1. Prepare for a change of mindset - the creative brain required to write your book is poles apart from the project manager/admin assistant/account director type mindset you have to adopt when you start to self-publish your book. I needed a break of 12 months between finishing the manuscript and starting the publishing process. This time gave me the mental space I needed to pivot from being an author to becoming a ‘publisher’.
  2. Make your book look good - invest in getting a great cover for your book - it’s worth it. Also invest in getting your book professionally formatted - it’s also worth it. If you can find a great collaboration partner like Easypress, even better (noting this is not a sponsored post. I just loved working with them on my paperback).
  3. Focus on getting reviews and feedback - look at getting the final draft of your book onto ARC (advanced reader copy) sites. These genuine, unpaid reviewers can provide you with initial feedback on your book and give your book early momentum on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. ARC sites have individuals who actually want to review your book, unlike friends and family who sometimes, quite frankly, do not.
  4. Start with getting your eBook published and then move to paperback - I found it simpler to tackle the eBook first. You can reiterate quickly in a digital format and there are less moving parts to manage. You don’t have to figure out the paper size/type needed, how many pages are in the book and all the precise formatting. Plus, getting your eBook out the door is an easy-ish win that can help keep you motivated with the process (see tip #5). 
  5. Prepare yourself for a bit of a journey - understand that it can take around 4-6 months to get your first book self-published. This is after you’ve written the damn thing mind you! There’s a steep learning curve that comes with self-publishing, everything is finicky and you’re going to have to take breaks from time to time for your own (and your partner’s/family’s/friends’) sanity. My tip is to not get overwhelmed trying to get to the finish line. Rather, chip away at it slowly in discrete parts (e.g. ISBN purchase, cover design, formatting, distribution channel research, review-seeking, etc) until the whole project chaotically, tearfully, gently comes together.

Where to next?

I’m expecting to get stuck into a new instalment of LeonieSkyforce-Clarke as soon as I get the current book published as a paperback. Then, I’ll finally have time to sleep(and hopefully dream) again!


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